Posted tagged ‘nickel and diming in transit’

Traveling with No Companion But the Person Next to Me

January 18, 2014


Traveling with No Companion But the Person Next to Me

There you are again, your sandwich sprawling red onions–
and I am starved (also a little
repulsed), knowing there will be nothing but “nut mix” mainly wheat mixed
with salt–and you will order water or cranberry juice
and I will feel unable next to you to order a red wine, though so low
even at cruising altitude, that I swore to try that for once, something, anything–
but the thing is
the coat from which you unpocketed your sandwich is nearly identical to an aunt’s
who could never let us spend money
in her presence, much less order wine–and why do you follow me
onto all planes, Aunt Ginny, and you,
Mom, packing the Depression even into my

Yes, I know you’d never eat so many
red onions and you’d never allow
all that mayo, still, there are the bunched sleeves, wrists,
foil unpeeling to crust–nothing I can

You watch your seatback, chewing, while I press everything
to turn off the men
on mine;  how they seem to chortle
above their self-satisfied stubble–but
nothing works–and what makes it worse
is that the only authenticity I can find in the nubbled plastic
at my fore, the scotch-guarded upholstery
at my aft,
even looking for the closest
exit, which just might be
behind, wafts
from those red onions–which are not mine, not mine–
draped in too much

The stewardess’s fringed lashes
warn me to be careful, now,
it’s hot–though the tea bag’s not even in the milky water yet, and
how will it ever brew like that–I hurry
to unwrap it– how will it ever
get strong?


I am a couple of steps behind the game, but here is a draftish poem for Heretomost’s  promptt on With Real Toads to write about a special person on a recurring journey to a special place.  My place is an airplane.  

Transit Rip-offs – Nickel And Diming Proceeds Apace

May 11, 2012


It is mother’s day weekend and I am flying across major swathes of the country today to pick up my mother and bring her back to New York City, meaning that I am feeling very daughterly and also that I will be spending virtually all day in an airplane.

I am happy to do it on the daughterly side, but what’s driving me crazy is the transit side.  Geez, what a rip-off flying has become!  (Actually,  let’s make that what a rip-off the whole culture has become, with a particular emphasis on airlines. Especially those airlines that  sell you a ticket and then make it impossible to check in without paying extra for a seat!)

And exactly how are you supposed to fly without a seat? (Last time I checked there was no place in the plane for straphangers.)

I do not truly believe that an airline can force you to buy a seat over and above the cost of your ticket.   I am quite sure that if you have a confirmed ticket but do not  select a seat in advance of flying, they will have to, eventually, finally, place you in a seat before take-off; maybe they will even have to place you into one of those seats with extra leg room. (Ahem, make that SOME leg room.)

But the airlines can make it extremely difficult for you to win at this game of chicken.  Hard enough that you may end up just giving in and buying the stupid seat because you want to check in online and you are too busy and stressed to hang out on the phone with them endlessly, much less curse your computer all night long.

Wearing down the consumer seems lately to be a common business technique. The basic approach is to put up so many hurdles that the customer just gives up on the idea of ever collecting their rebate, pursuing their insurance reimbursement, returning their faulty product and collecting any kind of refund, or otherwise insisting on what they paid for.

The world of transit has become particularly adept at hidden charges.  For example, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has recently begun pricing subway fares and fare cards in a manner that virtually ensures that most travelers will end up forfeiting about 5% of every purchase.

MTA commuter trains have, in turn, recently instituted expiration dates on train tickets, with extremely short windows of usage.  Oh sure, you can return some of there some expired tickets, but only if you pay a set $10 processing fee (no matter that the ticket itself only cost $11.)

And in the meantime, it’s getting chilly on this plane–except that oops!  Blankets are $6.00.

Oh mama!

PS- and now even my free bag of “fancy nut mix” has come filled to the brim with little wheat sticks.  Sheesh.



(Addendum:  I have a certain amount of sympathy with airline companies – the employees are working extremely hard filling all kinds of function.  My objection here is the sneaking in of costs.  In my particular case, I felt forced to pay extra for a leg-room seat because of a “glitch” in the online check-in, which did not feel like a true “glitch.”   But the point of the post is that there are all these nickel-and-dime extra charges put on average consumers and citizens lately –and it’s the sneakiness of it that gets to me.)